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What to do when the truth-teller can’t handle the truth?

Ar 180219729
Carolyn Hax
Ar 180219729
Carolyn Hax

What to do when the truth-teller can’t handle the truth?

Carolyn Hax

My brother is getting married soon. My serious, but fairly new, girlfriend thinks she’s not been invited because we’re lesbians, but actually, I’ve hidden the invite because I don’t want to take her.Wow, doesn’t sound any better written down, huh.Thing is, I adore almost everything about her! She’s kind, beautiful, passionate, clever ... and committed to telling the truth no matter who it upsets. If your hair is unflattering, she’ll tell you. If your husband is screwing around, she’ll tell you. If your father died badly rather than the kind fiction your family has been telling you since you were a child, she’ll let the horrible cat out of the bag – at her cousin’s wedding!I want my family to get to know her good side better before putting her in a situation where she’s going to risk alienating people by calling Aunt Mary fat – and I might have been less than discreet about some family issues before I realized she was not a vault.Thing is, it’s so hard to talk to her about it because she can’t budge from “truth is always best.” So, do I take her and risk everyone hating her, keep lying and risk her hating my family, or find some marvelous third option?Some Secrets Are Good!

Um. Do you see it? That you’re trying to withhold the truth that her truth-telling is too much?

She insists on bluntness, so give it to her. “I don’t want to bring you because you don’t have a filter. I’m mostly fine with that, but not at a wedding when my family is meeting you for the first time.”

Let her see what “committed to telling the truth no matter who it upsets” feels like on the receiving end.

Plus, tiptoeing around this trait of hers, and your discomfort with it, is the road to relationship hell. If your pairing can’t survive a reckoning with your doubts, then it can’t survive, period.

I didn’t get an invitation to my friend’s wedding shower. I loooove showers and weddings and graduations and birthday parties. LOVE them.I’m over the initial hurt and can rationalize that, perhaps, they limited the invites to just the wedding party and family, or my invite got lost in the mail, or my lack of invite was an oversight. (A lot of people were posting about it on social media – it didn’t seem like a small affair.)If either of the latter two are correct, I don’t want my friend to think I ignored the invitation. Is there any way to address this? I don’t want to make her feel guilty or bad. I’ve been helping her with some wedding things, I was one of the first she told she was engaged, I’m invited to the wedding, etc. – it really seems like I would have been invited. I just had lunch with her, and she talked about the shower but didn’t ask me why I didn’t come.For what it’s worth, her sister was in charge, and it was a bit of a disaster due to lack of planning, the sister’s martyrdom, and more. It’s entirely possible I was overlooked by mistake. What can I do?Uninvited

“I just had lunch with her, and she talked about the shower” – ayyy. That was your best opportunity to mention it, because having the other person bring it up for you is always the best opportunity – it spares you the awkward jumping-in. The wording didn’t have to be elegant: “I’m just going to be blunt, because it’s weighing on me – you’re talking about the shower as if I were part of it, but I wasn’t invited. Was that on purpose?”

You can still ask this, but you’ll either have to bring up the topic yourself or wait till she brings it up again. It gets odder and therefore more difficult as time passes, thus the missed opportunity.

But there’s really no statute of limitations on something that’s weighing on you because the weight eventually affects a friendship and therefore your friend. Just make sure you acknowledge the time you’ve let pass. “I realize it’s insane to bring this up after 30 years but humor me. It has nagged at me and at this point hearing the worst possible truth sounds better than another 30 years of not knowing what happened.”

Or, take the far less dramatic path: Just treat the sister’s disastrous party-planning skills as all the explanation you need – because they are – and say nothing.

Even if either worst-case is true, that your friend left you out on purpose or that you were supposed to be invited and your friend thinks you were a no-show: You just had a friendly lunch, so whatever either of you feels isn’t dire.

The deciding factor is really whether you can shake this off and stay on the same terms with this friend as before. If no, then speak, and if yes, then let it go.

My in-laws live out of state, and visit about once every six to eight weeks for long weekends.Before their most recent visit, my mother-in-law asked my husband to buy weed gummies for his sister, who is dealing with a chronic illness, because it is legal here. She plans to carry them with her on the plane back to their home state.My mother-in-law, when asking my husband to do this, said he didn’t have to tell me if he didn’t want to. My husband responded saying of course he was going to tell me.I find her suggestion that her son lie to his wife offensive and divisive. She has always been manipulative, and it has always put a strain on our relationship. I often get upset with things she says. Unlike in years past, I have recently taken the approach of letting her comments roll off my back because I don’t think she’s worth the worry. However, I feel like this is an attack on my marriage and my family. We don’t keep secrets, and I don’t want her to encourage our young children to keep secrets.Am I overreacting because of our history, or is this worth addressing?Colorado

It was an attack on your marriage that your husband cleanly and swiftly put to a stop. Yay!

Seriously. Yay.

His simple rebuff was not merely a one-skirmish victory. It told your mother-in-law with two words – “of course” – that she’s the outlier in encouraging secrets, and it told both you and your mother-in-law that he has your back (not hers). Those both carry forward.

It also says your husband is still being transparent with you about his conversations with his mom, which is arguably the most significant point. Nothing says more clearly that you are your husband’s priority.

Such transparency also is the biggest thing you stand to lose by reacting, again, to your mother-in-law.

At present, your husband feels he can share with you what he talks about with his mom. If you continue to behave as you did “in years past,” getting upset and feeding and feeling the strain, then at some point he might decide it’s easier just to keep this or that exchange to himself – not the right thing to do, but a common one, and much worse for your marriage than Gummygate.

Deep breaths. Deep rolling off back. Your openness with your husband is the source of encouragement your children will witness the most.

Carolyn Hax is a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post. She started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. Email her at tellme@washpost.com.

Ar 180219729

Carolyn Hax